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Archie Battersbee's Family Loses Bid To Keep Son On Life Support After He Tried TikTok 'Blackout Challenge'

Photo: Hollie Dance
Archie Battersbee

The family of a 12-year-old boy who has been on life support since April has lost their bid to prevent doctors from withdrawing the life-sustaining support.

12-year-old Archie Battersbee was found unconscious in his home after his mother believes he attempted the TikTok trend known as the “Blackout Challenge” where users hold their breath as long as they can, often until falling unconscious.

Battersbee has been on life support at the Royal London Hospital since April, but his family has been fighting to move him to hospice so he can die with "dignity."

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Many children have lost their lives because of the "Blackout Challenge" videos that continue to spread, and Battersbee is far from the first.

What is the ‘Blackout Challenge’ on TikTok?

The basic idea of the “Blackout Challenge” is that the person posting it is supposed to hold their breath until they pass out.

Online challenges like this are extremely risky because cutting off the source of oxygen to the brain can cause permanent brain damage and have resulted in children's deaths.

Despite the popularity of the trend on the social media platform, the challenge has been derived from sources other than TikTok.

The outrage against TikTok and this challenge happened after 10-year-old Nylah Anderson died from the same challenge — her death resulted in her family filing a lawsuit against the social media platform.

Where did the 'Blackout Challenge' come from?

This risky challenge, while now popular on TikTok, long predates the app considerably and many believe that the “Blackout Challenge” did not first come into existence on social media at all.

Some people see this challenge as an evolution of the “Choking Game,” which, according to the CDC, had killed at least 82 children by 2008, well before many of our modern social media sites became popular.

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The game is nearly identical to the “Blackout Challenge,” except that the latter is posted to social media instead of simply played either with friends or alone.

This game as a social media trend could lead to an even higher risk of death than the original “Choking Game,” as it is more likely to be performed alone, with the intention to post, as opposed to having others around watching you in real-time.

According to the CDC, “most of the deaths occurred when a child engaged in the choking game alone.”

After Anderson's death, a TikTok spokesperson spoke to The Washington Post, and said that the “disturbing ‘challenge,’ which people seem to learn about from sources other than TikTok, long predates our platform and has never been a TikTok trend.”

“We remain vigilant in our commitment to user safety and would immediately remove related content if found,” the spokesperson said in an email to The Washington Post and added that they have made it impossible to search for videos using the hashtag #BlackoutChallenge since then.

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Amanda Hartmann is a writer and editorial intern at YourTango who writes on various topics such as news and Entertainment.

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